Chapter 3

It was nearly sunset. Had I really slept all day? The next thing I remember was waking up, on the shoreline again, alone. Thank you Ibis. I thought, as I remembered what I had done for her best friend. As I painfully got up, I saw Hummers come towards me. He looked tired, but alright. His cropped dark hair was clotted with dirt from the creek, and his face was dirty. But to me, he just looked like, well, a Hum.

“Hey Swallow.” He said, as he offered me his hand. He pulled me to my feet, and I wiped my hands off on my wet dress. I looked at him. “Ibis told me what you did, and I want to thank you.”

I sighed. “It was instinct. I don’t know. Something inside kind of ‘snapped’, you know? I couldn’t stand there and watch you drown.”

“Well, thank you anyway. I owe you one.” He made a lopsided grin as he backed up and began to turn around. I looked down at my muddy dress and began walking back up the hill towards Mema and I’s hut.

Da told me to come after him. Mema says that I can lead a revolution. How in the name of all that is good am I going to do it? I suppose I should start with the first thing I was told to do… By the time I made it back to the hut, I had made my decision.

“Mema!” I called into the house. I was met with silence and darkness. I looked around in confusion. Mema was normally back before sunset. Suddenly I heard a series of horrific screams. It sounded like everything good in the world was being slowly tortured. To death.

I rushed back outside and ran to the center of our village. The clan elders were whipping three people: an old man, a young girl I didn’t recognize, and. Mema. They were whipping Mema.

“Stop!” I screamed at the top of my lungs as I sprinted towards the whipping posts. She was tied to a metal post, and she was on her knees; her back was bleeding profusely, and her face looked terribly bruised. The elder assigned to her drew back his whip as I rushed in front of the man.

“Please, stop!” I said. My voice was winded, and I saw Mema turn her head in my direction. She was breathing heavily, and every breath she took sounded as if she could hardly breath. The elder, holding the whip sneered at me.

“Get out of the way.” He said, his voice low and dangerous.

“Not until you tell me what she did.” I glared at him, and he looked away momentarily.

“Do you want this?” He questioned, gesturing to his whip.

“No, and I don’t believe my mother does either.” The man looked as if he would have whipped me right then and there if he could have.

“She deserves every cut she gets.”

“What did she do?” My voice cracked with exasperation and fear.

“She killed an elder.” I gasped at his words. What?

“Al, ugh. I can explain-” My mother gasped.

“SILENCE!” the man screamed. “I can explain for you.”

I glared even harder at the man. Mema was not a murderer.

“While doing her daily work for the good of the clan, your mother was told that she needed to collect more wheat for the day’s quota. She didn’t have enough. In retaliation, and pure defiance, she pulled out a wheat scythe and stabbed him through the heart.” My heart beat faster and faster. I simply could not believe what the man was telling me.

“Mema is not a killer.” The man smirked at me.

“The evidence proves otherwise.”

“Please. Just let her go! How many lashings has she had?”

“Only twelve out of the twenty that she deserves!” the man yelled.

“Then give me the rest.”